Rare letter from Mary Anning expected to reach £12,000 at auction

Mary Anning

AN unpublished letter written by Lyme Regis’ most famous daughter, Mary Anning, is expected to reach up to £12,000 through an online auction. 

Dated February 15 1829, the famous fossil hunter sent the letter to her friend and collaborator, William Buckland, describing her latest discoveries on the Jurassic Coast, including a plesiosaur that is now in the Natural History Museum in London.

She explains that she delayed sending him specimens because the recent frost had affected her work on the cliffs, but she was now sending him a box, writing: “…there are few coprolites which I hope you will think good there is one with bits of Sepia in it another in marle with some remarkable bones in it one has an impression of an Ammonite.”

It is believed the box of coprolites that Anning sent to Buckland is now part of the collection of the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

Little of Anning’s correspondence has survived and nothing has come into auction before.

The letter is expected to sell for between £8,000 and £12,000 and bids up to £7,000 have already been made, with the online auction closing on August 4. You can view the listing and place a bid by clicking here.

Anning, the working class daughter of a cabinet-maker, lived on the site where Lyme Regis Museum now stands and searched the surrounding cliffs for fossils to sell.

Although she did not win the recognition she deserved from the scientific community during her own lifetime, due to her lower class and sex, she is now considered one of the most significant palaeontologists of all time, with her discoveries including the first correctly-identified ichthyosaur.

Anning, who died in 1847, will soon be brought back to life by award-winning actress Kate Winslet in the film ‘Ammonite’, which was partially filmed in Lyme Regis in March 2019.

The film is set for release next year, having been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

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1 Comment

  1. Maybe the money from the auction of Mary Anning’s letter will go a long way to securing the erection of a statue dedicated to Mary Anning which is well overdue.

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